By Morris Phillips
SAN FRANCISCO–A franchise record 62 players have suited up for the Giants this year, and it’s not just difficult to figure out who’s who.
On nights like Wednesday, it’s difficult to determine who’s supposed to do what, and when they’re supposed to do it. The visiting Pirates had a better grasp on all that, built an early lead and emerged with a 6-3 win.
The Giants used six pitchers, benched Buster Posey, lifted Brandon Belt for a pinch-hitter, and intended to lean heavily on rookie starter Logan Webb. The Pirates stuck with their same youth-infused crew that lead them to wins in 11 of their previous 18 games. Jose Osuna led their attack with a pair of doubles, and three runs scored.
“We’re out to win every game,” manager Clint Hurdle said of his Pirates. “There’s winning and losing, and there’s winning and learning. And if you’re losing and not learning, you’re wasting your time. You’ll get run out of this game. So there’s lessons to be learned, and I think we’ve been able to have solid reviews when things haven’t gone our way.”
The Pirates’ intentions all came to fruition, while the Giants experienced multiple, embarrassing moments. Webb uncorked a pair of wild pitches in the Pirates two-run second, and was gone before finishing five innings. The rookie made his fifth start, and he’s lost twice and received two no-decisions since winning his initial big-league start on August 17.
Six relievers followed Webb, and the group acquitted themselves admirably, allowing two hits and two runs over the final four plus frames. But their efforts couldn’t affect the outcome, as the Giants were held to three singles, two of those in their three-run, fifth inning. The rest of the night was rooted in frustration, as the team came up with just one hit across seven opportunities with a runner in scoring position.
“Three hits, it’s tough to win a ballgame,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “You got to take advantage of those innings were we had them on the ropes. The strikeouts got us there. The leadoff walk, the two-out walk, they all came back to haunt us.”
The Giants have dropped eight of their previous 10 home games, and are now nine games below .500 at home on the season. Their three hits were their fewest at Oracle Park since July 19.
If there’s a theme running through this series with one game remaining Thursday, it’s the superior performance of the Pittsburgh bullpen, which has allowed one hit while registering 13 strikeouts. The Giants have failed to score a run in any of the 11 plus innings that the Pirates’ bullpen has pitched.
On Thursday, the Giants will turn to Jeff Samardzija in a matchup with Pittsburgh’s Joe Musgrove, who will be making his first appearance on the mound since July 31.